Syrian-Lebanese committee to define borders

Other News Materials 14 August 2008 17:44 (UTC +04:00)

A Lebanese-Syrian committee is to resume its work in demarcating the borders between the two countries based on a joint agreement, said a statement from the two countries' presidents following negotiations in Damascus Thursday.

The statement on the second day of a meeting between Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad added that strict measures would be taken to eliminate smuggling between borders, dpa reported.

In addition, the statement said a committee would discuss the issue of citizens of one country being detained or reported to have gone missing in the other.

Suleiman also invited al-Assad to visit Lebanon, who promised he would visit.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem described the presidential talks as "constructive and fruitful."

Relations between Syria and Lebanon have been strained since the two neighbours gained their independence some 60 years ago from France, but the two-day meeting in Damascus between Suleiman and al- Assad is seen as a thaw.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice welcomed the announcement of relations between the Arab neighbours, saying that if Syria proceeds to recognize a border between the two countries and respect Lebanese sovereignty, "then this will have proved to be a very good step."